Workers Uniting Rank and File Build Power at Global Paper Meeting

Unite and USW members in the paper industry built links of solidarity with union members from other countries during a conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

The conference, the IndustriALL Global Conference on the Pulp and Paper Industries, was held November 12 – 14 and brought together 135 union leaders from over 20 countries.

A primary focus of the conference was to establish networks of union members at common employers in different countries. Unite and USW paper industry rank-and-file leaders at common employers SCA and Huhtamaki built relationships with union members at these companies in South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia.

Member to member relationships at current USW employer and former Unite employer International Paper were also developed.

Ten Unite and USW rank and file leaders participated in the conference, accompanied by staff and other leaders of both unions.

jon geenen

   Jon Geenen

“Workers Uniting is driving an agenda of building union networks at some of the world’s largest paper industry employers,” said USW Vice President Jon Geenen, who led the USW delegation. “These networks are the key to global solidarity at a rank and file level and provide a vehicle for exchanging knowledge and information.

“Equally important, these networks provide infrastructure for developing a proactive agenda and ensure workers are not being denied the right to join unions or forced into substandard work arrangements, and if needed, provide the foundation to wage a global campaign against irresponsible employers,” added Geenen.

The conference created a work plan that will guide the unions’ international work in the paper sector in the coming years.

The IndustriALL paper conference elected a work group of leaders from key paper sector unions around the globe. USW Assistant to the President Leeann Foster was elected Vice Chairman of the work group. Geenen and Unite National Officer Steve Sibbald were also elected to serve on the work group.

steve sibbald

        Steve Sibbald

“Workers Uniting will use its strong presence in the IndustriALL paper sector to advance a program of collaborating with employers when we can, and fighting back against companies when we must,” said Sibbald. “The paper sector is currently faced with numerous challenges, and our unions will be stronger by taking on these challenges together.”


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